Offensive Guard—(Muhlenberg) Baltimore Colts 1950,1953-54, New York Yanks 1951, Dallas Texans 1952 [Italian American Sports Hall of Fame 1980, New Jersey Football Hall of Fame 1983]
This guy was the toughest of us all. We're on the road one time and my suitcase falls apart. So Sisto here, he walks into this post office and tears the rope right off one of those post office bags. And then he wraps the rope around my suitcase. They wouldn't let us in [the hotel]. They took one look at the battered suitcase and said, “You'll have to go in the back door.” “I don't blame `em,” Averno says. “That suitcase looked like hell.” My father carried it through World War I.
John "Buckwheat" Bauer (1932-2010)
Tackle—(Illinois) New York Giants 1954
Bauer autographed this 3x5 card for me in November 1995. He wrote me that in his opinion, Sam Huff was the most bruising player he faced in pro ball (in practice).
Center/Linebacker—(Missouri/Michigan) Paterson Panthers (AFL) 1947, Brooklyn Dodgers 1947, Buffalo Bills 1948
Callahan printed his full name on this football career questionnaire that he filled out for me in September 1993. He wrote that Lennie Ford was the roughest, hardest hitting player in his experience, but no "cheap shots." Lennie was a teammate of his at Michigan. I sent him a second questionnaire exactly a year later, either by mistake or possibly in an indirect attempt to try to get an autograph, but without success.
Blocking Back/Linebacker—(Wisconsin) New York Giants 1944, Jersey City Giants (AFL) 1946-47
[Somewhere buried deep in my collection, I have his autograph. Once I find it I will post it.]
Defensive Back/Linebacker/Halfback—(Morris Harvey) Chicago Cardinals 1955,1957, Montreal Alouettes (CFL) 1958, Philadelphia Eagles 1959-63, Washington Redskins 1964-65
Halfback—(Michigan State) Pittsburgh Steelers 1950-56 [#1 Kickoff Returns 1951-52]
We had Lynn Chandnois. There's no telling how great a ballcarrier he was, but [Walter] Kies[ling] never thought that Chandnois put out. On the practice field, maybe he didn't. All I know is when it came time in a game, he was great. So one day we played the Giants and Chandnois ran back two kickoffs for touchdowns, over ninety yards each time. And the first thing Kies said after the game was, "Can you imagine that lucky bum!"
He was just an outstanding athlete. He was a good tackler, a good runner, but he sure was a great blocker. He sent me on a lot of long runs because he was such a good blocker.
I received this autograph from Chandnois probably in about the late 1980s.
Bob Chappuis (1923-2012)
Halfback—(Michigan) Brooklyn Dodgers 1948, Chicago Hornets 1949 [All-American 1947, College Football Hall of Fame 1988; #12 All-Time AAFC Passing]
For a single-wing offense, we threw the ball an awful lot. It was more passing and deception rather than power. The key was Bob’s ability to pass so well.
1947 Jack Sords cartoon
Chuck Cherundolo (1916-2012)
Center/Linebacker—(Penn State) Cleveland Rams 1937-39, Philadelphia Eagles 1940, Pittsburgh Steelers 1941-42,1945-48
Chuck was a great guy, and a fine coach, too.
In 1995, Cherundolo apologized for his tardiness (five years) in replying to my request for his autograph. He sent this note, several signatures, and a 1963 Eagles vs. Cardinals football program.
Roland “Rail” Dale (1927-2012)
Defensive End—(Mississippi) Washington Redskins 1950
Roland Dale autographed this 3x5 card on both sides for me in September 1998.
Defensive End—(East Los Angeles JC/Washington) Green Bay Packers 1961, Washington Redskins 1962-63, Oakland Raiders 1964-73, Portland Storm (WFL) 1974 [AFL All Pro 1967]
I very much wish I could have played my whole career there [Green Bay], despite the fun I had and the success I had playing with the Raiders. I liked the Midwestern people. I'd probably be still living there, one of those guys around town. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole part of it, not the least of which was winning the NFL championship. It would have been a good run.
He was a tough, gutsy ballplayer, team oriented with enough meanness in him to be feared and enough talent to be effective.
Halfback/Quarterback—(Ohio State) Cincinnati Bengals 1937; North Carolina Pre-Flight Cloudbusters 1943
1936 Burnley cartoon
Offensive Guard/Linebacker—(UCLA) Los Angeles Rams 1955-56 [All-American 1954, UPI Lineman of the Year 1954]
Jack Ellena autographed this 3x5 card and 1954 Murray Olderman cartoon for me in 2011.
Gene Fekete (1922-2011)
Fullback—(Ohio State) Fort Bragg 3rd Field Artillery Replacement Training Center Cannoneers 1943; Cleveland Browns 1946
[He was] a terrific plunger . . . .This powerful lad was always good for that last yard or two and, when the defense tightened to stop his punches, other Buckeye backs  were free to run the ends.
Fekete autographed this 1942 Jack Sords cartoon and other items for me in December 1990.
Dick Felt (1933-2012)
Defensive Back—(Brigham Young) New York Titans 1960-61, Boston Patriots 1962-66
I traded a Ron Marciniak 3x5 for this Felt 3x5 in Feb. 2011. I probably could have easily requested it as Felt only lived about 25 miles south of where I live, but I was trying to accommodate the collector.
Sid Fournet (1932-2011)
Guard—(Louisiana State) Los Angeles Rams 1955-56, Pittsburgh Steelers 1957, Dallas Cowboys 1960-61, New York Jets 1962-63
Ed "Gus" Gustafson (1922-2012)
Center/Linebacker—(George Washington/Dartmouth) Brooklyn Dodgers 1947-48 [George Washington University Hall of Fame 1992]
In November 1993, Gustafson filled out a football questionnaire for me. It is printed in ink. He wrote that Marion Motley was "tough to bring down." He also mentioned that Glenn Dobbs "had great talent" and Martin Ruby was "as good as they come both offense and defense." I do not have a signed autograph, just this printed questionnaire.
Tailback/Defensive Back—(Texas College of Mines) Cleveland Rams 1940, Brooklyn Dodgers 1943 [#1 Kick Returns 1943]
Ken Heineman autographed copies of these news articles for me in about 2010.
King Hill (1936-2012)
Quarterback/Kicker—(Rice) Chicago Cardinals 1958-59, St. Louis Cardinals 1960,1969, Philadelphia Eagles 1961-68, Minnesota Vikings 1968 [All American 1957, No. 1 Draft Choice 1958]
King Hill wasn't exactly the world's second fastest human.
Bob Hayes, the World's Fastest Human
King Hill autographed this 3x5 card and 1957 Tom Paprocki cartoon and other items for me in September 1989
Al Johnson (1922-2011)
Quarterback—(Hardin-Simmons) Philadelphia Eagles 1948
Johnson autographed this 3x5 card for me in February 1996.
Halfback—(Detroit) Detroit Lions 1943-45
Keene autographed this 3x5 card for me in May 1994. In a note he wrote me: "Bruiser Kinard was probably the roughest player. Alex Wojciehowicz, a team mate was a good tough line backer. The two best all around players were Don Hutson of Green Bay and Sammy Baugh of the Redskins."
Alex "Tippy Toes" Karras (1935-2012)
Tackle—(Iowa) Detroit Lions 1958-62,1964-70 [All-American 1956-57, Outland Award 1957, College Football Hall of Fame 1991]
I had a license to kill for 60 minutes a week. It was like going totally insane. Alex Karras
He's a type of guy you'd never think is ready, but with the ball in the air, he is: he has everything, the Johnny Unitas of his position — instinct, size, ability, the moves of a ballet dancer, dainty. Well, one of the nicknames for him is "Tippy-toes" — hard to believe, I mean the fellow standing still looks like he's sunk in the ground. But then he takes one step and you can spot that he's all springs and coils inside.
Playing against Karras is like playing a chess game. If you try to pop him, he'll beat you like a stepchild. You've got to be thinking all the time. You've got to be thinking about the move he beat you with two years ago. You've got to remember that everything with him is a countermove . . . . Alex has half a dozen different, effective moves — it took him three or four years as a pro to develop them — and he uses all of them.
He was pretty damn tough.
Alex's God-given natural ability was based entirely on quickness and agility, not on strength or weight.
Alex had those twinkle toes, which initially surprised me for a man his size. Then I looked closer, realized Alex wasn't all that big. For a tackle he was actually light, cat-quick, and guys had trouble blocking him squarely. Alex was also a master at the karate chop to the helmet, and a very determined sort who genuinely despised being outplayed.
Probably the toughest guy I played against year in and year out was Alex Karras of the Lions. He didn’t always make All-Pro, but he had some great moves. Alex had outstanding upper-body strength and very quick legs, and he was just a superb pass rusher. He used to give me fits.
Tony Klimek (1925-2012)
Linebacker—(Illinois) Chicago Cardinals 1951-52
Tony Klimek autographed this 1950 Alan Maver cartoon in October 1992.
Guard—(Duke) Philadelphia Eagles 1942,1946
I was what they called a running guard. I was big compared to a lot of the guys, and I was pretty quick, I guess. I was a rookie, down at the bottom of the list as far as money is concerned. Money wasn’t a problem, at least I didn’t think so at the time. I’m a thrifty guy, and I saved a great deal of the money I made. It enabled me to buy a car and a lot of things I wouldn’t have been able to if I hadn’t had that income from the Eagles. They tried to get me to stay, but by the time I got out of the service, that was four years. You can’t stay away from an active sport like football for four years, then hope to come back and be effective. It was a good experience and there were some nice guys. It was a lot of fun.
McDonough autographed this 3x5 card for me in December 1994.
End—(Princeton) Chicago Cardinals 1955
McPhee autographed this 1952 Tom Paprocki cartoon and 3x5 card for me in March 1996.
Walt McDonald (1920-2012)
Blocking Back/Defensive Back/Quarterback—(Tulane) Melville Motor Torpedo Boat Training Center 1945; Miami Seahawks 1946, Brooklyn Dodgers 1946-48, Chicago Hornets 1949
MacDonald autographed this 3x5 and other items for me in February 1992.
End—(Purdue) San Francisco 49ers 1948-49
Maloney autographed this 3x5 card for me in July 1993.
Defensive Back—(Indiana/Notre Dame/Illinois) Buffalo Bills 1948, Detroit Lions 1949, Baltimore Colts 1950 [Indiana Football Hall of Fame 1988]
Maggioli autographed this 3x5 card for me in November 1992.
Offensive Tackle—(Michigan State) British Columbia Lions (CFL) 1956, Green Bay Packers 1957-64 [All American 1956]
Norm Masters #78
Masters autographed this 3x5 card for me in November 1995.
George Mrkonic (1929-2011)
Tackle—(Kansas) Philadelphia Eagles 1953 [All-American 1951]
Mrkonic autographed this 3x5 card for me in August 1998.
Linebacker/Halfback—(Georgia Tech) Los Angeles Rams 1955-57, Chicago Bears 1959-65, Atlanta Falcons 1966 [College Football Hall of Fame 1992]
[a] great linebacker.
Tackle—(Dayton) Cleveland Rams 1939, Columbus Bullies (AFL) 1940
In about 2008 Niehaus autographed this 3x5 card and 1940 article reporting his selection to the 2nd Team AFL All Star team in 1940.
Halfback—(Pennsylvania) Coach—Bucknell 1958-64, Pennsylvania 1965-70, Williams College 1971-86 [All-American 1943, College Football Hall of Fame 1992]
We played a good schedule that included Army and Navy. It wasn't all Ivy League then. I think I scored more from blocking back than tailback.
Everywhere I looked, there was Odell.
Earl "Red" Blaik (Army coach)
Odell wrote me this 2-page letter two years before he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and became much more accessible to and recognized by autograph collectors.
Mel Odelli (1920-2010)
Halfback—(Duquesne) Pittsburgh Steelers 1945
They were tough days.
R. C. "Alley Oop" Owens (1933-2012)
Offensive End/Flanker—(College of Idaho) San Francisco 49ers 1957-61, Baltimore Colts 1962-63, New York Giants 1964
There was nothing very fancy about the Alley-oop. The idea was for me to throw the ball as high and as far as I could. R.C. would amble down the field, wait for the ball to get about 14 feet from the ground, and then outjump everybody for it. And, boy, I want to tell you—he could jump. I never saw a fellow who could get as far off the ground in one leap. He was usually head and shoulders above the defensive backs at the top of his jump . . . .Owens was a great all-around receiver. He could catch the ball high, low or in between. He had wonderful speed for a six-three 200-pounder and big hands that could squeeze the football like an orange.
Y. A. Tittle
Owens autographed these and other items for me in September 1989.
Tackle—(Tulsa/Oklahoma) Chicago Hornets 1949
Paine printed his name on a questionnaire that he filled out for me in September 1993. I just realized that I sold the original of this questionnaire to a collector in December 2011 and may not have another original document signed by him. Whoops!
Mike "Animal" Patanelli (1922-2010)
End—(Manchester/Bowling Green/Ball State) Brooklyn Dodgers 1947
Patanelli autographed this 3x5 card for me in January 1995.
Guard—(Michigan) Green Bay Packers 1946, Detroit Lions 1947-48, New York Bulldogs 1949 [All-American (NEA) 1942, College Football Hall of Fame 1982]
Pregulman autographed this 3x5 card for me in about 1989. He wrote that Steve Van Buren was the hardest-hitting player that he ever played against.
Dom Principe (1917-2010)
Fullback/Quarterback—(Fordham) Sampson Naval Training Station Bluejackets 1943; New York Giants 1940-42, Brooklyn Dodgers 1946
Stan Isaacs, sports editor of Newsday, a Long Island daily newspaper has named me on "The Sports World's Hall of Fame by the Numbers" in 1970 and again in 1982. This is an all-star team by the numbers. I wore #94 with the Brooklyn football Dodgers in 1946. Apparently no great players have had that number. I'm listed with such greats as Babe Ruth, Gordie Howe, Dimaggio, Ott, etc.
Principe autographed this 3x5 card and other items for me in December 1991. He sent me copies of a couple of service football programs. I have letters from him dated Dec. 9, 1991 and Feb. 24, 1992.
Wide Receiver—(North Texas State) Baltimore Colts 1955; Calgary Stampeders (CFL) 1957-58
Renfro autographed this for me in March 1995.
Darrell Royal (1924-2012)
Back—(Oklahoma) Coach—Mississippi State 1954-55, Washington 1956, Texas 1957-76 [Coach of the Year 1961,1963,1970, College Football Hall of Fame 1983]
Royal probably is the best punter I've ever seen.
Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
Royal was a smart signal-caller and a very good passer. He ran the option play well . . . .Royal was also an outstanding punter.
Royal autographed these 1949 and 1964 Tom Paprocki cartoons for me.
Halfback—(North Texas State) Washington Redskins 1956-57
In 1994, Runnels wrote me that in his opinion, Dick Butkus, Chuck Drazenovich, and Gene Brito were the toughest football players.
George Savitsky (1924-2012)
Tackle—(Pennsylvania) Philadelphia Eagles 1948-49 [All-American 1945, College Football Hall of Fame 1991]
George Savitsky wrote me these interesting brief notes two years before he was elected to the Football Hall of Fame and became much more accessible and known to collectors. From the tone of his handwritten note, there may have been very few autograph collectors reaching out to him as early as I did. I was on a quest to try to get autographs from everyone who was in the 1955 Topps All-American set. I still had all the cards in that set, bought in packs back when I was a kid.
Billy Shipp (1930-2011)
Tackle—(Alabama) New York Giants 1954, Toronto Argonauts (CFL) 1955-56, 1961-66, Montreal Alouettes (CFL) 1956-60
Shipp signed his name on this questionnaire that he filled out for me in September 1998. He wrote me that Tex Coulter was the most bruising player he experienced during his career.
Sollie Sherman (1917-2010)
Halfback/Quarterback—(Chicago) Chicago Bears 1939-40
Sherman autographed this 3x5 card for me in August 1995.
Ed Smith (1923-2010)
Halfback/Defensive Back—(Texas-El Paso) Green Bay Packers 1948-49, New York Bulldogs 1949
I obtained this 3x5 card signed by Smith in trade for a Solon Barnett cut signature in May 2012.
George C. "Big George" Speth (1918-2011)
Tackle/Center—(Murray State) Camp Lejeune Marines 1943; Detroit Lions 1942,1946; Charlotte Clippers (Dixie League) 1946-47 [All League Dixie League 1946, #1 Field Goals Dixie League 1946]
Halfback—(Temple) Buffalo Bills 1949, Philadelphia Eagles 1950-52
If I can't find a sports cartoon, I generally try to find an article reporting the initial contract signing of a pro player. In Sutton's case, I found very few articles, but picked this report of a pre-season Bills' game in 1949 in which he gets only a brief note of playing. Nonetheless he was appreciative. He autographed these for me in about 2010.
Defensive End—(Wisconsin) Green Bay Packers 1957-60
[He was a] real good end.
Temp autographed this 3x5 for me in 1989. On the reverse side he wrote that he considered Jim Taylor the roughest and Bob St. Clair the meanest player that he played with or against.
Jerry Tubbs (1935-2012)
Linebacker/Center—(Oklahoma) Chicago Cardinals 1957-58, San Francisco 49ers 1958-59, Dallas Cowboys 1960-67 [All-American 1956, Knute Rockne Award 1956, College Football Hall of Fame 1996]
He was a fine linebacker.
Jerry had such a competitive fire that he'd just do anything to help the team.
Tubbs autographed this 3x5 card and other items for me in December 1988.
Steve Van Buren (1920-2012)
Halfback—(Louisiana State) Philadelphia Eagles 1944-51 [#1 Scoring NCAA 1943, Pro Football Hall of Fame 1965]
We all protected him because he was our meal ticket. Steve was a great runner.
Halfback Steve Van Buren of the Eagles was super. I never saw a better bread and butter ball carrier.
[He was] a very quiet, very loyal person. In a game, he would give everything he had. They blocked like hell for Steve because everybody liked him so much. He was gung-ho. He'd run 100-yard wind sprints before practice, before anybody else got out there.
It would be hard to say that Steve Van Buren wasn't the star of those teams as well as of the entire NFL. You could always count on the yards that Steve was going to get you.
He was the Jimmy Brown of his time.
Steve Van Buren autographed many items for me including this 1943 Sam Davis cartoon and the colored pencil sketch I did of him in 1990. I also have four other different cartoons that Van Buren signed including a 1949 Tom Paprocki, a 1948 Alan Mayer, and a 1944 and 1945 Jack Sords. I also have a photo of him and four of his Eagles teammates signed by him and three others.
Jack Vetter (1920-2012)
Tailback—(McPherson) Brooklyn Dodgers 1942; Richmond Rebels (Dixie League) 1946
Vetter autographed this 3x5 card for me in July 1993.
Jesse Whittenton (1934-2012)
Defensive Back—(Texas Western) Los Angeles Rams 1956-57, Green Bay Packers 1958-64 [All Pro 1961, Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame 1976]
Actually, Jesse is the greatest athlete I've ever played with. Not only was he a great football player, he became a professional golfer, he was great at track, an outstanding basketball player. Remember, we played in the old Border Conference with a lot of good teams--Arizona, Arizona State, Texas Tech, New Mexico, New Mexico A&M.
Whittenton autographed this 3x5 card and trading card and other items for me in September 1998.